Italy: Italy is bullish on defense trade and investment, other sectors: envoy

Italy is optimistic about improving its trade and investment ties with India, including in the defense sector, under the Make in India initiative, based on the extremely positive trend in bilateral trade since 2020, Italy’s envoy to India Vincenzo de Luca said .

“The development in bilateral trade has been extremely positive since 2019. In 2021 it reached 10.4 billion euros. Between January and August 2022, the value has already reached €9.8 billion, a jump of 52% compared to the corresponding value last year,” said de Luca in an exclusive interview with ET. “Italy is not only in an investment interested in the Indian defense sector, but also in exploring opportunities for potential technology transfer.”

Italy’s top export to India is machinery, accounting for 36% of its total exports, and India’s top export to Italy is metals (iron, steel and aluminum and metal products), the senior diplomat said.

Relations are on the upswing and successive prime ministers of Italy have met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in recent years to give impetus to the bilateral partnership, including in the defense sector, de Luca said.

Last year, the then Army Chief of Staff, General MM Naravane, visited Italy on July 7-9. The visit of an Indian army chief to Italy came after 14 years and at the service chief level the interaction took place after more than a decade. At the time, the Italian Ministry of Defense communicated Italy’s desire to “restart defense relations with India”.

“Italy also relies heavily on the Indo-EU FTA (Free Trade Agreement). We have an ambitious deadline of December 2023. We are optimistic about India, which is becoming increasingly attractive to Europe, including Italy,” the ambassador said.

Italy is also keen to share its expertise on managing natural gas infrastructure, given its own experience in the sector, he said.

Italy is one of India’s top five trading partners in the European Union. India is the 19th source country for Italy’s imports, accounting for 1.2% of Italian imports. Other items of Indian exports to Italy include ready-made clothing, leather, iron ore, motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals, precious stones and jewellery.

About 140 major Italian companies are active in India, the total number is over 600. Six Italian banks are present in India. The main sectors attracting foreign direct investment inflows from Italy are automobiles or transportation, food processing, metallurgical industry, textiles and electrical appliances. Indian companies are active in Italy in sectors such as IT, electronics, pharmaceuticals, automotive, textile and mechanical engineering.

Some of the major Italian companies that have invested in India operate in the priority sectors outlined in the 2020-24 bilateral action plan – energy transition, manufacturing, lifestyle, infrastructure and food processing.

In particular, the promotion of investments in small and medium-sized companies and a strategic partnership in the energy transition were the two pillars for strengthening the economic partnership between Italy and India.

The adoption of a joint statement on Italy-India Strategic Partnership on Energy Transition between PM Draghi and PM Modi last year was an important step in encouraging Italian and Indian companies to develop joint projects in key areas of the energy transition – such as: mobility, smart grids, power distribution and storage solutions, gas transport, green hydrogen and biofuels – and to exchange useful experiences, especially in the area of ​​political and regulatory frameworks.


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